Shorewood assisted living facility celebrates 20 years of senior living

Sheila Albor: ‘Everyone here is like one big family.’

Timbers of Shorewood celebrated its 20th anniversary on Thursday, October 13, 2022, in Shorewood, Ill.  Pictured, from left, are Amy Odell, director of activities, Sheila Albor, director of marketing, and Stacy Ascencio, leasing coordinator.

The Timbers of Shorewood honored its 17 veterans Nov. 11 with a ceremony and gifts.

The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery Honor Guard bugler played taps, and cemetery representatives performed a flag-folding ceremony.

The American Legion Women’s Auxiliary of Lockport provided the gifts. The Timbers staff distributed goodie bags and crocheted poppies for the veterans.

This is just one of the many programs the Timbers hosts for its residents during the year.

Timbers of Shorewood resident, John Dixon, a U.S. Navy Veteran, opens a goodie bag from the Timbers of Shorewood’s Veterans Day celebration on Friday, November 11, 2022.

The Timbers, a senior living and assisted living facility known for its varied in-home and communitywide activities, celebrated its 20th anniversary Oct. 13.

Featured events through the years have included an annual “senior” prom; visits from therapy dogs; music therapy; monthly musical events (with regular appearances from Del Bergeson and his 10-piece orchestra); a walking club; paint and sips; cocktail hour; book club; Wii bowling; Tai Chi, scrapbooking; and a wide variety of special programming such as history of hats, Civil War and information for veterans.

Stacy Jager music therapist sing along with Timbers of Shorewood residents Judy Kovic and Kathleen Stephens during the Music and Movement class at the at The Timbers of Shorewood retirement community Thursday, August 10, 2017, in Shorewood. The next class is Aug. 1.

And, of course, bingo.

Naturally, some programming has changed through the years, but one key trait has remained the same.

“What really hasn’t changed, definitely, is the family feeling of the community,” said Sheila Albor, director of marketing. “Everyone here is like one big family.”

When the games end, McCluskey often gives participants a crossword puzzle they can work on during the week. They're free to see McCluskey for the answers during the week or at the next session.

"We had one [crossword puzzle] that was all three-letter words," McCluskey said. "It was very difficult."

Music is another tool to help keep memory sharp, one reason why The Timbers offers so many music-related programs: ballroom dances, musical performers and the monthly "Music and Movement" class which works the lung, heart, and encourages reminiscing.

"Music is one of the biggest memory triggers there is," McCluskey said. "When the music plays, it's nice to see them sing along because they know every word."

Another focus on is the "Optimizing Brain Fitness." Instead of mental exercise, this discussion-based classes focuses on ways to foster and preserve brain health, Mc Cluskey said.

"For example, making sure you're getting enough exercise to stimulate your brain and body and watching food and calorie intake to stay healthy," McCluskey said.

Linda McCluskey, director of activities, leads the "Academy for Seniors" at the Timbers of Shorewood Friday, June 08, 2018, in Shorewood, Ill.

Most of the residents opt for independent living as opposed to assisted living even though residents come to The Timbers later in life, said Albor, who’s worked for the Timbers for 15 years.

People once moved into the Timbers in their 70s and 80s, she said. Now they wait until their 80s and 90s.

“I have a 102-year-old who’s very independent,” Albor said. “She still takes the stairs. She’s been here 20 years.”

Albor is referring to Jean Thuringer, one of the original residents of the Timbers of Shorewood. Thuringer moved into the Timbers in 2002 and was queen of the “senior” prom in 2007.

Timbers of Shorewood resident Jean Thuringer is seen during the Timbers of Shorewood 20th Anniversary on Thursday, October 13, 2022, in Shorewood, Ill.  Thuringer, age 102, is one of the original residents of the Timbers of Shorewood. Thuringer moved into the Timbers in 2002 and was queen of the "senior" prom in 2007.

But living alone in the greater community isn’t always the best choice for older seniors, even if they still are very independent, Albor said.

“When you live independently at home, anything can happen if you fall or if you have a medical emergency,” Albor said. “It could take hours, it could take days to find you.”

Timbers residents typically are more tech-friendly than in the past, although the Timbers still offers technology classes, Albor said.

Consequently, the Timbers is receiving more requests for private internet with Hulu and Netflix capabilities, which it hopes to provide soon, she said. Currently, the Timbers offers basic cable.

Although bingo still is very popular, many residents also ask for educational programs. So the Timbers launched its academy program in 2018, which covers a single topic, such as brain health, over a six-week period.

The Timbers of Shorewood held a graduation ceremony for 10 residents who completed the Timbers’ Academy for Seniors course on brain function Thursday April 28. The course covered brain structure and aging, brain function, diseases of the brain and strategies to help keep the brain active and healthy.

The Timbers also has a fitness center; a 24-hour concierge service; a restaurant; and linen, housekeeping and transportation services. However, many residents still have active driver’s licenses.

“We actually have so many residents who are still driving that we had to extend our resident parking,” Albor said.

Residents may live independently in their own apartments or use a wide range of assisted living options. But that’s where services end.

Josephine Ardizzone, 2019 prom queen dance with Edward Panelli during Timbers of Shorewood Annual Seniors' Senior Prom in Shorewood, IL Friday, June 21, 2019. Live big band music was provided by the Del Bergeson Orchestra. Members of the orchestra are 30-plus year music professionals, each with a deep passion for music and entertaining. Teenage “chaperones” were on hand as helpers and dance partners. The teens were from Joliet, Plainfield, Minooka, and Shorewood area high schools.

“We do not have nursing home care or memory care,” Albor said. “We stop at assisted living. The biggest reason for moving out is that the resident has exceeded independent assisted living and now needs a lockdown unit or memory care, which we do not have here.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, brought its own challenges to the Timbers, with restrictions of visitors and cancellation of group activities.

“It was very sad and very difficult to watch,” Albor said. “Window visits became the norm. But we kept their spirits up.”

Helen Minnick was one of 90 women at The Timbers of Shorewood who received a gift basket on Mother's Day from Tami Wadas of Shorewood.

Albor said staff sat on chairs near the residents’ doorways for conversation. They also brought activities to their rooms and hosted door-decorating contests.

“I think we did a good job at keeping them busy,” Albor said.

Timbers residents also received COVID-19 vaccinations in January 2021 and COVID-19 boosters later that same year. Staff still wear masks, although masking guidelines vary for residents depending on COVID-19 cases in Will County, Albor said.

Timbers of Shorewood resident Joe Fiday receives the COVID-19 booster vaccine and flu vaccine from Saint Francis College of Nursing student Lorimel Edquid during a vaccine clinic held at Timbers of Shorewood Friday, October 8, 2021, in Shorewood, Ill.

The Timbers hopes it can resume its community programs in the future if COVID-19 cases continue to decline. Some of those programs and events include its annual Halloween Spook House, which is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association; a “Santa and the Timbers’ Elves” holiday party; and its “Hippity-Hop Easter Egg Hunt” that featured 10,000 eggs and a full program of activities.

On Oct. 31, 2019, the Timbers even opened its building to the community for trick-or-treating at the last minute because temperatures had unexpectedly dipped very low that day.

Draft horses for hay rides tour the parking lot during the “Santa and the Timbers’ Elves” party at The Timbers of Shorewood retirement community on Dec. 19, 2015, in Shorewood.

But even weathering the pandemic wasn’t all bad.

“I think everyone has more appreciation for life now,” Albor said.

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Children will have more than 10,000 to find during the eighth annual Hippity-Hop Easter Egg Hunt Saturday, April 7, at the Timbers of Shorewood.